May the 1st was supposed to be our first day on site at what would have been our 60th appearance at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. As we all know, the date has come and gone, and this year there will be a gaping hole in the calendars of many where this amazing flower show should have been.
Although we have known for a while that it would not be going ahead, along with all the summers horticultural events, there is something about that date that has become a key anniversary. Turning the page in the diary last week and seeing ‘start on site Chelsea’ written made me realise what we will miss. Time has flown by and I couldn’t believe this would have been my 15th Chelsea build along with trusty Major Hewitt.
It is far more than the bumper crop of exciting new enquiries that the investment in Chelsea brings. The arrival on site on that first day to find our familiar patch of grass with John our trusty builder who has done our stand for years now is SO exciting. As you walk through the site you see familiar Chelsea friends year in and year out – Steve and his team keeping us all under control, the lovely Belinda in Burtons Court, the RHS team who are there to help you through any challenges, and the familiar faces of the contractors who tackle the stunning show gardens, it is the warmest of working environments. There is a shared endeavour and a camaraderie that reflects that. In these most unusual times, it is that sense of friendship and team play that will be missed the most this year.
Collaborations on our own stand – Taylor Tripp, Sims Hilditch, Jake Curley, the National Trust, Kew Gardens, and Selina Lake have all played a part in creating stands that people remember. Our aim each year is to create the context for the greenhouse we show – a real garden with a story about the people who will use it, make it evocative and appealing. Our 60th stand will be no different, and having wrapped up our own ideas and collaborations carefully, we are the most prepared we have ever been for 2021!
We truly hope that this too will pass and we will return next year to celebrate out 60th Chelsea. We do hope to see nurseries, businesses, designers and the wonderful faces in this unique horticultural industry all weather the storm, and look forward so much to those special – although undoubtedly tiring – 3 weeks in May when real magic happens.
A small consolation is the time that we will now spend at our base – Torberry Farm, and at a time when it is usually neglected, it will benefit from the creative itch that needs attending to! Watch our stories on Instagram to see our allotment makeover, with special guest appearance from Selina Lake.